Repeat Customers vs. Delighted Customers

There is nothing better for your business than positive word-of-mouth.  It’s better than any advertising you can buy, and it’s free.  In fact, you can’t buy it at any price.  You can try.  Car salesman, for example, will often hand a new customer a stack of business cards with the promise of a "finder’s fee" for anyone sent in who buys a vehicle.

But, there’s a big difference between me sending you a customer so I can make fifty bucks and me sending you a customer because my experience with you was so good that I want to share it with my friends.  The more of these customer "ambassadors" you have, the more likely it is that your business will grow.

It’s easy to confuse repeat customers with delighted customers.  There are a lot of reasons why someone might come back to your store but it doesn’t mean that they are saying nice things about you.  For example, here in St. Louis we have limited choices in air carriers.  A business person may fly American to Dallas and back every week because their flight times are more convenient, but it doesn’t mean that he or she is delighted, or even satisfied.  They might change carriers in a heartbeat if someone else offered similar service.

I buy most of my gas at the same station every week.  It has nothing to do with their service.  They have no service.  It has everything to do with the fact that the station is two blocks from my house.  In fact, there’s a new Quik Trip going up right down the street and when they open, I’ll switch.  QuikTrip has great coffee.

When we survey consumers who have recently purchased our products, we ask them two questions.  "How likely are you to reccomend this product to your friends?" and "How likely are you to reccomend the dealer to your friends?"  Marketing experts tell us that this is a good way to find out how many customer "ambassadors" we really have.  The good news is that on a scale of 0 to 10, our products and our dealers always score above eight and usually above nine in all of our business units.

It’s intersting that for most of our products, the dealers actually score slightly higher than the products.  It makes sense when you think about it.  Because every manufacturer builds products that they hope will have universal appeal, very few people are going to be 100% satisfied.  On the other hand, because the dealer works with the customer one on one, a relationship is built based on that customer’s individual wants and needs.  Do it right and you have a delighted customer and a high "willingness to reccomend" score.  Delighting 100% of your customers is difficult, but it’s definitely doable.

Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba, proprietors of the "Church of the Customer" blog have written a short piece called "The Customer Evangelism Manifesto."  It’s an easy read, only 21 pages of large type with a lot of white space.  It’s based on their book, "Creating Customer Evangelists:  How Loyal Customers Become a Volunteer Sales Force".  You can read or download the "Manifesto" in .pdf format by clicking here.

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